Coping with trying times

This morning I woke to news the McConnell-stacked Supreme Court is about to demolish Roe v. Wade. Well, that and howls of outrage about it on Twitter. I joined in the collective fury, but I can’t help feeling an all-too-familiar disgusted resignation already creeping in.

The last five or six years, including the pandemic, have been emotionally exhausting. I’ve noticed in my own reading a tendency to want to escape into happy, amusing romantic comedies. (I even wrote one myself, an update of my favorite romcom of all time, Pride and Prejudice, and am currently trying to decide what to do with it.)

I always aim to keep my own novels light, but they usually also deal with some dark issues.

Maybe that’s why I don’t even feel like trying to market them right now? Because we’re all tired, aren’t we? We don’t necessarily want to “escape” into books about immigration or addiction or racism or whatever, even if promised a happy ending.

I have friends who have been using this time to organize their opposition at the grassroots level and take on entrenched powers. I admire them greatly. I’ve never been comfortable in an angry crowd at a protest, but I have done my fair share of door-to-door canvassing.

However, I’m old enough now to be kind to myself and admit how much I absolutely loathe doing that kind of thing.

These days I can’t seem to bring myself to do anything more than root for and vote for and maybe throw some money at the candidates they support. Who then tend to lose. (Though not always.)

A long time ago I had to read Candide for college, a howl of outrage written for its own day, and the way it ends, “We must tend our garden,” has always struck me as the best comfort in times like these, when so many hard-won freedoms are under vicious, coordinated attack.

a variety of seedlings not yet planted

This year’s somewhat stressed out seedlings, waiting for warmer weather.

Of course, I take that command more literally than Voltaire probably meant it, as I get ready to plant my veggie seedlings (if we ever stop having frosty nights here this spring!).

Such gardening is, of course, a privilege for those who have some land and time and the budget for gardening supplies (which, I’ve recently discovered, have been just as affected by inflation and supply chain issues as anything else).

Another type of tending, the kind of writing that examines our culture and promotes critical thinking about it, has also largely become the bastion of people who have the time and financial means and marketing wisdom and connections and dogged persistence (and, sometimes, just plain luck) to keep doing something that doesn’t pay a living wage to the vast majority of the people who do it.

So I guess I ought to try to make as much of that privilege as I can, right? Or at least more so than I seem to be doing at present.

As well as getting the tomatoes and peppers and eggplants in.

How are you keeping yourself from despair in trying times?

4 thoughts on “Coping with trying times

  1. I cope by focusing on the grandkids and working at two jobs where you see immediate (or at least quick) results. At the Amazon sorting center, it’s good to see that the packagers get sorted and go out each night. At preschool, it’s nice to see the kids growing and maturing, doing things that they weren’t capable of just a year, a month, or a day ago. Yes, it’s a trying era, but has there ever been an easy era?

  2. I have to admit I cope by reading lighter fare like romances (not so much the thrillers I enjoyed in the past…too many anxiety-producing moments there), taking photographs, and by writing haiku and short, related stories about a white cat named Aloysius.(What started as a one-off flash fiction piece morphed.) Now, I am working on putting them all together as a children’s book if I can get some illustrations together. ~nan

    • That sounds very soothing! Yeah, I can’t cope with thrillers at all right now unless maybe I skip to the end and find out everyone is okay before I go back to where I was. Is Aloysius also your cat in real life? (My little Penny is soothing, but she also hacks up hair balls!)

COMMENTS / QUESTIONS / CONCERNS?